8. Cultural experience
Chile is often described by its neighbors as organized, ordered and the people as distant. From a German point of view, the country and its people are absolutely warm, cheerful and wonderfully chaotic. In my first week I was invited to spend a weekend with a Chilean family and from then on I was immediately considered an official family member. Making friends among Chileans is easy and even if you ask for help, they will do everything in their power to help. If your own hair color is blonde, you have all the attention to yourself anyway.
On the other hand, you have to get used to the fact that Chileans start planning the current day at 12 noon at the earliest, and five minutes before the start of the celebration they cannot say whether they are coming or not (something could happen at the last second Better) and really always and hopelessly late at every opportunity. The Chilean day-to-day life is just as much a part of it as the constant feeling that everything could actually be organized more efficiently and that you wouldn’t have to set up six ATMs next to each other if five of them weren’t constantly broken. When working in groups with Chileans, the well-organized German student is expected to do one thing or the other, but I have made the experience that Chileans are very hardworking students at heart (but only at the last minute, of course) and so our joint work has led to very good results.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check physicscat.
In Chile, probably no German is saved from the culture shock (the lack of heaters when arriving in winter doesn’t help either), but once that is overcome, empanadas and avocado become staple foods, the Chilean reggeaton goes into the blood and at the latest with one Week-long Independence Day celebrations start adding “huevon” to your sentence (the word that describes everything and everyone and can mean anything from buddy to an insult).
At the same time, the FEN takes care of bringing the exchange students closer to all aspects of Chilean culture throughout the semester. This includes visits to bars and restaurants typical of the country, Cueca dance lessons and film evenings (the trip to the Oktoberfest, on the other hand, was not very typically Chilean).
I myself took a lot with me from Chilean culture and now I like to refer to my German friends as perfectionists and order lovers, because I’ve learned that life is wonderful when something is never perfect.
9. Professional, linguistic and personal development
My goal was mainly to improve my Spanish in South America, which I definitely achieved. Chile is a wonderful country to learn Spanish.Not because the Chileans say strange words like “cachai?” And “huevon” and have an accent that takes getting used to, but because they speak English so badly. Since even many students cannot utter a full English sentence, Spanish is a must outside of university (and that’s a good thing!). Chileans are loving and patient teachers and also like to talk to you in Spanish if you only know three words and no grammar. In addition, through joint courses, sports activities and events from the university, the exchange students are always with Chileans and have never been isolated. So if you dare to talk, you will quickly find local friends and improve your language very quickly.
In addition, the FEN offers a language course, but I did one privately at a language school that was cheaper and more intensive. It was also worth asking the Goethe-Institut in Santiago for a tandem partner, so I met a Chilean who is learning German.
Since you have many international friends one way or another and do all the activities together, you improve your English at the same time. The many written essays and presentations make you more confident in both languages.
It takes a lot of time to study, but in retrospect I can say that I have really learned something. Since I didn’t take any typical business administration courses, I gained more cross-topic knowledge that serves well as background knowledge.
For personal development, it is always worth going to a country that is as different from Germany as any country in South America. You learn to see the world from a different perspective. Things that we take for granted our whole life are not in these countries. It’s good to put your own life in a backpack and realize how little you actually need to be happy. Reaching out to people and asking for help becomes just as natural as helping on your own when you have the opportunity. And the admiration for the people who improvise anew every day in order to make something out of nothing was no less after six months in South America than on my first day.